As I write this 5 British Airways aircraft are holding over various parts of the UK and Ireland, with the expectation of getting into Heathrow. Currently all UK airports are closed courtesy of the so called ash cloud. The only airports open appear to be Shannon in Ireland, and those on the continent.
Yet the skies of the UK have actually seen a number of aircraft. Here in South Wales alone we have seen around 20 aircraft overflying, mainly Lufthansa and KLM aircraft heading westbound towards the US and Canada. These flights have been allowed because we are told that the ash is at a lower level at present. German, Dutch and Belgian airspace has been open all day, as has much of France. It seems the UK is becoming increasingly isolated.
Despite all the various test flights (EasyJet, the low cost carrier are doing the latest), no one has found any visible ash clouds, and none of the post flight inspections have revealed any damage to the engines (or any other part of the aircraft). There is no doubt ash up there, but clearly it is widely dispersed, otherwise we would see it, and pilots would see it.
The prize for the most inventive flight must go to the owners of a private Boeing 737 business jet registered N721BA. Earlier today because of the closure of UK controlled airspace, the aircraft took off from Luton, flew all the way upto Scottish airspace at low level (below 5,000 ft) and then climbed to its cruising altitude of 34,000 ft once it was clear of the alledged "ash cloud"!
So the closure of much of the UK's airspace continues....despite no evidence that the ash could cause any damage to aircraft or their engines.